[by Tim Bigonia, DVC member since 2012] I had met them just 11 months prior, and now we were planning a trip to Disney World, just the three of us. At the time, I wasn’t sure who was more excited, Karen, the 6-year-old who had stolen my heart, or me. One thing was for sure; this was to be a memorable vacation for us all. Karen and her mother, Colleen had no idea how memorable it would be. And I wasn’t aware that this would be just the beginning of a deep family relationship with everything Disney.
On that very first Disney trip back in October 2004, I was undoubtedly nervous. Not because I had no idea what Disney had in store for us, I had been there when I was ten and loved it even then. My nervousness was largely due to the ring strategically hidden in the pocket of my shorts for the past few days. Day two went by, and then day three, as I was constantly searching for an opportunity to steal away a moment with Colleen to create the perfect memory.
The time never seemed to be right, even when we met up with friends in Magic Kingdom, which would allow us the time to get away on our own. Finally, late that night on a moonlit beach at The Contemporary Resort, as Karen drifted off to sleep, I seized the moment. During a short stroll with Colleen, just yards from our garden suite patio, as I commented on the resort lights reflecting at the water’s edge, I took a knee and bought into the magic before me. The warm night air, that moonlit beach, and most importantly of all, the woman who came to mean so much to me throughout those past 11 months. And she said yes!
I’m sure there are many stories like that and more just as spectacular in their own way. The one thing they have in common is the magic surrounding them as they choose to make their dream come true. This has always been the basis of our love of Disney, and specifically Disney World. Whether it is the grand gesture of a proposal or the added sparkle in a little girl’s eyes when they discover the delight of breakfast at Cinderella’s Castle, the magic is there if you search for it.
That little girl became a big sister twice in two years, thoroughly enjoying sharing with her brothers all things Disney. Beginning with movies and then onto Disney World, that little girl became an accomplished guide for her brothers as they all found a bond with the magic they discovered together. Colleen and I entertained the idea of buying into the Disney Vacation Club (DVC) in 2009 but ultimately decided it wasn’t the right time.
Finally, in 2012, on our fifth vacation to WDW, we took the plunge and literally bought into the magic. We chose our Home to be Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary, which was literally built in the area I had proposed. The magic there has held a deeper meaning to us all ever since.
Becoming DVC Members has allowed us to stay at top-tier resorts, known as deluxe resorts, in a way we couldn’t otherwise. Split-stays between two resorts during one vacation, for example, is not something we would have typically been able to do financially without our DVC membership. The ability to stay at a resort we most likely wouldn’t have been able to have given us memories we cherish to this day.
Once such memory was a split-stay between Bay Lake Tower and Animal Kingdom Lodge (AKL). We booked a week-long trip which ended with two days at AKL. At the time, our daughter was in high school and beginning to question the appeal of yet another Disney trip. In fact, for that trip, we had her bring a friend to help with the potential “Disney again” attitude. When we arrived on the fifth day of our trip to our Savana-view rooms, our daughter and her friend were so taken by our new resort that they asked why we hadn’t booked our stay longer than two days at AKL. They absolutely loved it!
For planning purposes, being a DVC Member has also allowed us to plan way ahead – 11 months ahead for our Home Resort, Bay Lake Tower, and seven months ahead for all other resorts. The result? It has been a rare incident when we’ve found it difficult to book a room exactly when we needed it.
Being a Disney-loving family based in the midwest, it is important for us to be able to book a reservation for the resort we want during the dates we have available. We don’t typically have much flexibility with our dates and would like to stay as long as we can when we book. Planning with confidence has always been a benefit you rarely hear about, but which, for us, has been priceless.
When it comes right down to quality rooms and amenities, which are appreciated and have come expected, DVC resorts deliver. They consistently deliver spacious rooms with amenities that have grown with our children, including fitness facilities, walking/running paths, pools, gift shops, and various locations. Even in vacationing it can be all about location, location, location. As our kids have grown, they’ve come to want to experience different locations.
Boardwalk has been one such location that has benefited our children as they’ve gotten older. EPCOT has become a must-do and a full-day park. Several quality resort choices located right next to EPCOT on Crescent Lake allow access to EPCOT through the International Gateway entrance and become an attractive option for growing families.
No matter how you achieve your stay in Walt Disney World, traditional bookings, or DVC-specific resorts and villas, one thing is the same; the magic. It’s still there, even if, at times, the magic is self-made. A game of cards while sitting out a short rain storm behind Drinkwhallah in Animal Kingdom, asking for a once-in-a-lifetime ride up front on a Monorail (when it was possible), or watching your children’s eyes light up for the 50th time they watch Happily Ever After because within those fireworks are memories… the magic is still there. We chose to buy into the magic long before we bought into DVC. And how could we not? It was and is everywhere.
Sometimes it’s the magic created by the performer in a show or the magic of an exhilarating ride, or possible, on occasion, it’s the magic in the memories we make ourselves because of where we are and what that makes us feel.